Boondocking Rules of the Road

By:  Lisa & Dan Brown

Since we've been doing this boondocking thing for over a year now, we've become better stewards of the natural surroundings, land, properties where we boondock. We try to remember that our journey and destinations aren't just about us. In doing that, we've watched and learned from others good stewardship as well as bad. So we've created this self-help guide that we follow that we think will help others who are thinking about going out into the wild or those who are already boondocking and perhaps 'just don't know'.

Boondocking comes with a set of rules…

  • Distance ourselves- the prime purpose of boondocking is to get away from noise, chaos, and distractions from society and busy routine. Understanding others are opting for the same, we space ourselves from least a couple hundred yards. We are grateful and appreciative when others do the same.
  • Quiet is a good thing- We've learned to live without 'loud anything' (i.e. music, generators, yelling and screaming, etc.. One of the beauties of boondocking we embrace is hearing the wind whistle through the trees, howling of distant coyotes, trilling songbirds, and trickling waters of nearby streams. We try to minimize use of our generators (to charge our batteries on cloudy days) and only use them during daylight hours (9 a.m. to 9 p.m). Since we no longer have big boy/girl toys (ADVs, ATVs, etc.), we don't have to worry about bothering our neighbors with engine noise or dust.
  • Don't block others' view- Front row seats are awesome at a concert or movie however, it's incredibly discourteous to park between another RV and their view. It's no different than being the tallest person arriving right before the show to start and then sitting in front of others in a movie theater. RVers who have arrived before us may have positioned their coaches to enjoy an unobstructed sunset, the mountains or a beautiful shoreline without sitting right on top of it.
  • Light Pollution- There is nothing more magical than sitting in the middle of the desert and looking up to the stars in total darkness. Once the Sun goes down, we turn off outside lights and/or pull our window shades to avoid inside light peeking through the windows. We enjoy looking up at the Milky Way, studying constellations and making wishes on shooting stars. We like to be invisible in the dark (except in bear or big cat country!). We love it when others close by us do too. We enjoy our small propane campfire as it doesn't throw off much light.
  • No Landscaping- Typically, we do not park close to trees and bushes because we need all the sun we can garner for our solar. Evenso, there's absolutely no need for us to prune them as we use our propane fire pit and don't need branches or logs to burn. If we do decide to build a campfire, we only use what has fallen on the ground. We do not cut limbs, branches or stumps; even if a tree 'looks dead'. Some trees and bushes go through dormancy while lots of life is still going on inside of them. It curls my lip when I see trees and bushes that have fresh cuttings taken from them which exposes them to disease and unnatural exposure.
  • Observe Fire Safety- About those campfires; we always check with the Ranger for burn status and permits. Especially in dry areas, one simple spark can result in the loss of many acres of forest and people's homes or businesses. If we do have a wood campfire, before leaving our site, we always insure our campfire is completely extinguished and no trash left in the pit.
  • Mind our pets- Our resident mousers (Krissie and Kandi) are mostly indoor cats. If we do take them out, they always wear their harnesses with leashes attached. We don't want them to end up as a predator's dinner. Oh, and we never empty their litter boxes outside. Their cat box ingredients are bagged and are later disposed of in refuse containers. Though we don't have a dog, if we did, we'd always clean up after them as well, keep them on a lead or restrict them to just our site area and never ever allow them to encounter wildlife. Worth sharing though is when we are boondocking, we are living in the wild and cohabitating with all that live around us. This is their house and we're their guests. Wildlife should never be chased, threatened or their lives be interrupted by our pet's existence. Likewise, note that any interactions with wildlife may expose them to disease, stress or lure them from their habitats.
  • Leave No Trace- We take everything we brought. EVERYTHING! We police our site and camping area for bottle caps, plastic, napkins or tissues, soda cans, etc. even if they're not ours. We understand anything unnatural upsets the ecosystem and wildlife who live there. We also do not deface, destroy or damage anything (like someone else did in the photo below). We try to be good stewards of the the land and all that lives there.

But what if we have neighbors?

There is an unwritten rule 'whoever arrives first dictates the atmosphere'. If we arrive near an area of dirt bikes and ATV's, we expect it to be loud(er) so we opt for another area. We still try to be mindful that we're not the only ones out there enjoying true freedom. We hope ATV/ADV and RZR operators are mindful when also parking within earshot of others; not only for noise but dust as well.

In closing, if you've never boondocked before, you don't know what you're missing. Dare to take your fifth wheel, travel trailer, camper, or tent and find a good spot under the big sky and embrace the environment. Just remember though, we are just one teensy bit of existence. We need to coexist and be respectful to all that surrounds us.

Whether go farmdocking, moochdocking, or boondocking, it's a privilege that we surely appreciate and embrace. Perhaps other boondockers or those wanting to in the future would keep these in mind when trekking out there in the wild.

For some of our previous blogs about boondocking, we encourage you to grab your favorite beverage and click on one of these:

12 Tips on Campground Etiquette

Boondocking Water Replenishment for RVs

Sewage Disposal When Camping Off the Grid

10 Solar Friendly Tech Toys for RVers

Product Review: HighTec Solar Panels

Product Review: WEN 56200i 2000 Watt Generator

Every Ounce Counts in an RV

*Lisa Brown (Always On Liberty) is a paid contributor to the Heartland Blog. All opinions expressed are her own.*